A mother who breastfed her two daughters well into their preschool years has defended her lifestyle after she was taunted by trolls online.
Tara Corres, from North Carolina, breastfed her five-year-old daughter Ellyn until she was four and a half, and still nurses her three-and-a-half-year-old, Chloe.
While she kept her choice private for years, she decided to go public with a photoshoot for World Breastfeeding Week earlier this month, and received some abuse after the images were uploaded to the internet.
Tara Corres, from North Carolina, has opened up about her decision to ‘full-term breastfeed’ her two daughters. She fed her first daughter Ellyn until she was four and a half, and is still feeding second daughter Chole at three and a half
Tara said she did not intend to breastfeed Ellyn for so long but made her decision after reading about full-term feeding online. When she fell pregnant with Chloe, she said the decision to do the same thing was automatic
Speaking to Mail Online, she said: ‘I find it pretty sad that because my family does something that is different from mainstream parenting practices, we are receiving very hurtful remarks.
‘My children are happy, healthy, well loved, and living a great life.
‘You don’t have to agree with or do what I do, but just being respectful and kind to our differences would be nice. Kindness goes a long way.’
The images were taken by photographers Leandra Perez and Samantha Snipes, and initially uploaded to blog Love What Matters.
Tara said that when she first became pregnant by husband Alex, she knew she wanted to breastfeed because she is ‘a very natural-minded person’.
However, she didn’t plan to nurse her daughter beyond a conventional age initially, and only decided to keep nursing her as time passed.
‘If you would have told me back then that I would still be nursing her at four years old, I would have thought you were crazy,’ she said.
‘I had never heard of full term breastfeeding. I read stories of other moms that do and that is how I educated myself on the topic.’
She decided that full-term feeding was the right choice for her, and then went to tell her friends and family, saying they were ‘very supportive and proud’.
Tara said that until the age of two, she fed both girls on demand, but around two and a half she began being more strict. Chloe now only feeds first thing in the morning and before bed, eating solid food and drinking from a cup the rest of the time
While Tara kept her decision private for years, she decided to go public for World Breastfeeding Week earlier this month by putting together a photo shoot with her friends
Husband Alex was initially apprehensive, she said, and was worried about the negative feedback and how that might affect her.
However, he is now extremely supportive and glad that she has such a strong network of friends to share the experience with.
When she fell pregnant for the second time she said there was no question that she would breastfeed her newest addition in exactly the same way – leading to her feeding two children at the same time.
Speaking about that experience, she said: ‘It was definitely new territory for me to breastfeed two.
‘But we quickly found what worked best for us and it ended up being such a sweet thing for my girls. They bonded so well from the beginning.
‘I have always nursed on demand. When they want to, I provide it. Once they got into toddlerhood – around two and a half – I start setting boundaries. If I am busy making dinner or something, I ask them to wait until I am done.
‘Now that my youngest is three, she only nurses to sleep at night and first thing in the morning.’
During the day Chloe eats solid food and also drinks water from a cup. Breastfeeding is simply a comfort for her in the morning and at night.
Tara said she was bitten a couple of times when the girls developed teeth, but she felt no discomfort and said there is no major difference between nursing a baby and an older child.
Tara said that as Ellyn got older – between three and four years old – she explained to her that bigger children do not need so much ‘mummy milk’ and that it is part of growing older.
Tara had both girls with husband Alex, and said while he was initially apprehensive about her decision and the negative feedback she might get, he fully supports her
Tara said she has received nasty comments since posting her story online, but says her girls are happy and healthy, and people should respect her decision even if they don’t agree
Around four years old Ellyn was only nursing a couple of times a day, mostly around bedtime, and eventually stopped doing that of her own accord, Tara said.
After that there would be entire days where she wouldn’t ask to be fed, then whole weeks, and eventually she stopped asking altogether.
‘It was definitely bittersweet when she was officially done,’ Tara added.
‘Nursing is such a special bonding time between a mother and child. But, I knew she was moving into the big kid stage and that is a very exciting time as well.’
But Chloe is still very happy nursing at three-and-and-half, Tara said, and she does not intend to stop her.
Tara decided to share her story for World Breastfeeding Week after getting some of her friends together for a photo-shoot with the aim of supporting other breastfeeding mothers and breaking the stigma of nursing in public.
Speaking about her decision to share the pictures, she said: ‘I am a very private person. I haven’t posted a single picture of my children on my personal Facebook since they were born. I have also not shared this story either.
‘The reason I am okay with these pictures and my story being shared is because I see that I have been given a big opportunity to support other mothers as well as hopefully educate others that are not used to seeing mothers breastfeed in public.
‘I have seen many positive reactions from this story which makes sharing it worth while. And of course some very negative responses.
‘I kind of laugh and move on from the negativity because none of those people know me or my family.’
The girls’ names were changed at Tara’s request to protect their privacy